JUANITA Heparia says she still gets goosebumps when she sees “Aboriginal soldier” inscribed on a new plaque at the Katherine Memorial Cemetery.
The plaque was installed to pay tribute to Corporal Frederick Prentice, an indigenous station hand and World War I hero who is buried in an unmarked grave in the cemetery.
Until August, the exact location of Cpl Prentice’s final resting place had remained a mystery and was only uncovered after local singer-songwriter Neil Camm wrote a moving ballad – “Black Fella Anzac” – that told his brave story.
Mrs Heparia, Mr Camm and fellow Katherine resident Ellen Gough began a search for the grave, which was made easier with the assistance of plot maps from Katherine Town Council.
While the trio is still investigating the feasibility of getting the soldier’s grave marked with a headstone, Mrs Gough praised the council for providing the plaque and said it was an “excellent result” for the community.
“We’re thrilled the council did the plaque,” she explained.
“It gives some closure to his family and one is going to visit the grave during the next dry season.”
Mrs Heparia and Mrs Gough are planning to lay a special wreath for Cpl Prentice at the Katherine War Memorial during Remembrance Day commemorations next week.
Mrs Gough said she wanted community members to visit the cemetery after the service to inspect the plaque, adding that she hoped to get Mr Camm to sing the song that spurred the search.
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